I just came home from watching a play at Music Academy, Cathedral Road and my mind is still reeling. Hold on, let’s rewind a little and go back to the beginning. My blogger friend Ashwini asked me to watch a play recently and I agreed without a seconds thought because it was a theatre adaptation of one of my favorite novels, The 39 steps by John Buchan. I must have read the book a half a dozen times and watched the movie adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock on Turner Classic Movies at least twice. And I still couldn’t wait to get to the theatre to watch this performance for two reasons, first, the play had been adopted by Evam and we all know their unique treatment of original material and two, this was to be performed by just four people, yes, just four playing all the roles.
I got to the Music Academy just in time to meet up with my group of friends- Anand, Ashwini, Gitanjali and we hurried in to get the best possible seats, as the seats were on an early come/early served basis. The performance started on time but with a surprise twist. A rapid and I do mean rapid run through of the movie version of Hitchcock’s adaptation. And for those who haven’t done so till now, watching a classic film noir on fast forward really has a hilarious effect. That set the mood for what was to come in the rest of the show.
For those who don’t know the story, it deals with a South African mining engineer Richard Hannay, who returns home to England just before the start of the world war and lending an innocent helping hand to a secret agent who gets murdered that same night in Hannay’s flat, he is declared a murderer and forced to flee for his life to the Scottish moors, from where he discovers the secret of the 39 steps for which the secret agent was murdered and not only clears his name but also prevents that vital war information from reaching the German spies who are waiting for it. The secret agent in the book is a male named Scudder but in the movie by Hitchcock was replaced by a female character to add more zing. The play follows the Hitchcockian tradition with the female spy. They also spoof brilliantly the two iconic scenes from the movie- the slow removal of her stockings by the heroine Pamela..one of the most sensual scenes shot by Hitchcock and the chase over the moors by men beating the bushes, both spoofs causing rip-roaring laughter in the aisles.
For a production with just four people in it, rotating roles with ease, the props and the supporting cast have to be pitch-perfect. And they were. The performances were spot-on, the props very interesting and the play as a whole was a laugh riot of two hours. If you haven’t watched it yet, please do, it will be a play to remember.
(P.S. this review was not sponsored by Evam/Anyone…..the author paid for his own tickets and enjoyed the show)